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Retention, Tenure, and Promotion (RTP) Standards - Department of Communication | Policies | CSUSM

Retention, Tenure, and Promotion (RTP) Standards - Department of Communication

Definition: A policy for the evaluation of tenure track faculty within the Department of Communication.
Authority: CSU/CFA Unit 3 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Scope: Tenure Track Faculty within the Department of Communication.
Responsible Division: Academic Affairs
Approval Date: 08/20/2015
Originally Implemented: 08/20/2015
Signature Page/PDF: View Signatures for Retention, Tenure, and Promotion (RTP) Standards - Department of Communication Policy



This document elaborates on the CSUSM Faculty Personnel Policies and Procedures for Retention, Tenure, and Promotion and the College of Humanities, Arts Behavioral and Social Sciences Standards and Procedures for Retention, Tenure, and Promotion.  It articulates for our tenure-line faculty members (and reviewers of a Working Personnel Action File or WPAF) the Communication Department’s performance expectations and recommendations related to achieving retention, tenure, and promotion.

The Working Personnel Action File (WPAF) assembled by a faculty member documents their  accomplishments and  activities and thus is the evidentiary basis for evaluating performance and effectiveness in Teaching, Research and Service.  The WPAF must comply with the guidelines set forth in the University-level and college-level RTP documents.  Review committees at all levels  base their assessments of a faculty member’s achievements on the  information provided in the WPAF.

Communication Discipline

The Communication Department (hereafter the Department) “recognizes the transformative power of communication and its utility for re-making how we think about and act in personal, organizational, cultural, social, and political life” per the Department’s Mission Statement.  The Department offers two majors in Communication and Mass Media, and two Minors in Communication and Critical Intercultural Communication; its courses serve students in several minors and interdisciplinary programs in CHABSS.

Communication scholars explore a broad range of communication phenomena from a variety of methodological and paradigmatic perspectives. The discipline of Communication focuses on how people use messages to generate meanings within and across various contexts, cultures, channels, and media. The discipline promotes the effective and ethical practice of human communication. The discipline is divided into several fields; the most common include, but are not limited to:  Applied Communication; Communication Theory; Critical Cultural Studies; Electronic Media; Ethnography of Communication; Health Communication; International and Intercultural Communication; Interpersonal Communication; Language & Social Interaction; Mass Communication & Media Literacy; Mediation, Conflict, and Dialogue; Organizational Communication; Performance Studies; Political Communication; and Rhetorical Studies.

Clarity in Description and Categorization of Activities

One of our strengths as a department community is a rich variety of intellectual traditions, theories, methods and  pedagogical practices used to inquire into the many forms and implications of Communication, both the discipline and the human process.  It is the responsibility of each faculty member under review to describe their activities in language that is clear and accessible, and to explain (or minimize use of ) jargon or terminology that is highly specialized.

Scope, Emphases, and Basis of Review

Faculty undergoing periodic review and performance reviews should emphasize their accomplishments during the period since the last review, and address how they have incorporated feedback from prior reviews, including what steps were taken or changes made, or if no changes were made, why.

At each review, faculty in tenure-track lines in our department must indicate active engagement in advancing theories, pedagogies, or service forward, including increasing effectiveness in teaching.  The WPAF narrative should also include active engagement with feedback, suggestions, and advice offered in prior reviews, and distinguish that which is on record from prior reviews of teaching, research and service from subsequent accomplishments.  The narrative must include reference to prior feedback from the PRC, Dean, and Provost, when applicable.  It is noted that performance expectations across all three areas differ for assistant, associate, and full professors (see CHABSS RTP document for specifics).


A) Overview

As teaching professionals, we prize the design, delivery and maintenance of high-quality, challenging, engaging, learning environments. We position and develop students as thoughtful communicators, active learners, and critical thinkers about communication in its myriad forms and contexts.

B) Writing the Reflective Statement on Teaching

A faculty member’s narrative must connect their teaching philosophy to activities within particular courses.  The statement should make clear how particular items in the WPAF serve as the evidence of teaching effectiveness (appropriate for/relative to the Candidate’s time in rank and to the type of review, as discussed above in “Scope”).  The Candidate should interpret quantitative and/or qualitative evaluations in order to provide the greatest insight to courses taught. The reflective statement should comment upon the nature and the evolution of the Candidate’s pedagogy.

The WPAF should include a teaching narrative and supporting items, including:

  1. Courses Taught.  As faculty in a large department offering two degree programs, faculty members in the Department must support students’ timely progress toward degree completion by regularly teaching a mix of core and elective courses supporting the  Communication and Mass Media programs.
    a. In presenting information about courses taught,  the vita should list all courses taught since date of hire, beginning with the most recent. The narrative should focus on courses taught during the period under review, and indicate whether particular courses were (for this faculty member) a “new prep” (defined as the first time they taught it on this campus), an existing course, substantial revision of an existing course, or a new a course they designed. The number of students taught should be indicated  in the narrative and/or vita.
    b. Any optional additional teaching activities a faculty member elects to undertake (such as supervising Independent Study courses, mentoring undergraduate scholars, summer or winter session teaching, etc.) should be included on the vita. While summer or winter sesstion teaching is not required as part of the academic year teaching contract, if a faculty member engages in this voluntary activity, they are expected to include information and discussion about these courses.
  2. Syllabi.  Faculty shall provide student syllabi for each course taught, and syllabi shall be addressed in the narrative, particularly as changes are made.   One syllabus for each course taught for the period under review shall be included in the WPAF. AdditionalIy, if multiple sections of the same course are taught, multiple syllabi may be offered if the course was significantly revised or if significant pedagogical variation is present.
    Syllabi should follow these guidelines:
    a. Include established departmental PSLOs and assignments linked to student learning outcomes.
    b. Reflect compliance with the University writing requirement (each 3 unit course requires assignments totalling 2,500 words, approximately 10 pages).
    c. Include office hours (faculty are required to hold one office hour per week for each 3 unit course taught and to respond to student inquiries regarding advising needs).

C) Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness

There are many ways to document a faculty member’s effectiveness in teaching. The reflective statement should address how items included in the teaching section of the WPAF serve as evidence of  this effectiveness.  “Effectiveness” is evaluated based on teaching evaluation scores (should be predominantly at the department mean for similar courses) and qualitative responses, competence in preparing syllabi, demonstrated incorporation of department SLOs, and appropriate course assessments for both department and course SLOs.  In addition, teaching effectiveness should demonstrate improvement over time, such as improved evaluation scores, the incorporation of new pedagogical techniques, or continued mentoring of students.  Lastly, the PRC will evaluate effectiveness based on potential feedback from peers based on peer observations or course reviews.

  1. Required evidence
    a. University-administered student evaluations of teaching. The expectation in our department is that mean scores on these student evaluation items will be in the 4 to 5 (good to excellent) range and not fall consistently below the mean scores for college and comparison groups.  Instances in which mean scores fall below college and comparison group scores should be discussed in the reflective statement.

    Data from the university-administered student evaluations should be presented in the WPAF in copies of the reports received from the university. In addition, the Department requires faculty to include a summary of these findings in their teaching narrative.
  2. Other sources of evidence of effective teaching may include, but not limited to:
    a. Classroom Observation – Faculty may elect to include written summary results of peer observation evaluations of their teaching in the WPAF;
    b. Curriculum Materials Review – Statements from colleagues who have systematically reviewed and commented on the candidate’s course materials may be included;
    c. Samples of graded assignments, papers, and/or exams (with student name removed);
    d. Samples of prompts for assignments, online discussion, papers and/or activities;
    e. Examples of assessment techniques and rubrics;
    f. Lecture outlines, handouts, notes, and/or slides;
    g. Information about how a guest speaker, video, performance, field trip etc. supported course assignments or learning objectives;
    h. Evidence of  participation in teaching-related workshops, additional training/professional development (as attendee or presenter), including  evidence of how the new information was used in teaching or how one disseminated one’s innovative teaching practice;
    i. Nomination for teaching award;
    j. Conferral of teaching award;
    k. Student feedback other than university-administered course evaluations (solicited and unsolicited with student names removed);
    l. Invited guest lecture;
    m. Video or audio recording of teaching.


A) Overview

It is important for communication scholars to share their knowledge and ideas with others in their field as we work to build theories and understanding of human communication and media. Communication scholars typically participate in research/creative activity in an effort to contribute to the evolving body of theories and knowledge that inform our understanding of human communication and media, and participate in ongoing conversations and discovery in a number of venues.

B) Writing the Reflective Statement About Research/ Creative Activity

In the realm of scholarship, the Department holds four primary and interrelated expectations of its faculty at all ranks leading to a research program. A research program is a series of research endeavors, publications, presentations, or creative activities that are focused on engaging and forwarding a set of theories, social issues, or applied problems related to the faculty member’s area of expertise.  A program should  illustrate 1) sustained productivity; 2) continued scholarly or creative development; 3) public dissemination of their work to communication as a scholarly discipline; and 4) scholarship that shows rigor and engagement with a scholarly community.

The Department values all forms of authored scholarship (i.e., solo, co- or multi-authored). In each case, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to provide evidence of the nature of their contribution and the quality of the completed work with respect to these expectations in the narrative statement and as documented on their curriculum vitae.  Rigor and engagement may be demonstrated in the narrative by the explanation of publication or performative venues (audiences reached), discussion of the ways in which the research moves the discipline or area forward, discussion of the rigor of publication venues (peer reviewed, number of applications selected, etc.), or explanation of the application of the work.

C) Evidence of Research Effectiveness

  1. Major research/creative activity achievements include:
    a. Peer-reviewed journal articles in which the Candidate’s contribution was significant (e.g., make clear what the Candidate’s contribution entailed if co-authored work—“significant” means more than 50% contribution toward the completion of the publication), and which are published (or accepted for publication) in non-pay-to-publish well-respected academic journals. “Well-respected” indicates both well-respected editorial boards and publication rejection rates, but also “cutting-edge” emerging journals or publications in emerging areas of study. Evidence of the quality and/or significance of the work may be demonstrated, for example, by published rejection rates, Google Scholar citations, impact factors, or other external evidence;
    b. Book chapters published (or accepted for publication) in which the Candidate’s contribution was significant (e.g., make clear what the contribution entailed if co-authored work) and which is original work; the Department recognizes that the value of a scholarly book chapter is generally considered equivalent to a scholarly article;
    c. Scholarly book authored by the Candidate;
    d. Scholarly book edited by the Candidate;
    e. Successful externally funded grant. This might be grants from federal agencies, such as NIH, NSF, NEH, DOE, etc.; however, substantial grants from nationally recognized private foundations may also be included;
    f. Serving as editor of a disciplinary journal.

    We recognize that other items may be considered major scholarly achievements such as creative or applied publications, media products, web-based archives, web-based scholarship, or performances. Assessment of scholarly/creative achievements must include evaluation by experts in the field regarding the quality of the contribution to the field of study (see CHABSS RTP standards). It is expected that the faculty member will provide evidence and arguments that make the case that an item belongs in this category. We suggest that the faculty member consult with senior faculty if there are questions about the most appropriate category for an item.
  2. Additional research/creative activity achievements. There are a number of other products that are considered evidence of additional scholarly activity. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    a. External grant proposals (approved, but not necessarily funded);
    b. Internal grants or small external grants ($5,000 and below);
    c. Conference presentations, publications in conference proceedings, research published on digital media, fellowships, awards, and/or honors, analysis and other materials developed with/and intended for use by other scholars, invited addresses, encyclopedia entries, refereeing of a book, journal article, monograph, and/or conference paper, and other scholarly work that does not meet the criteria set forth under major scholarly achievements;
    d. Book reviews published in journals. Preference is given to those reviews published in journals generally, where there is the possibility of rejection, which  demonstrates the competitive nature of this type of work and contribution to disciplinary knowledge and advancement;
    e. Conference presentations and/or participation as panel respondent;
    f. Other disciplinary awards for scholarship/creative activity.


A) Overview

The Department has a longstanding tradition of service given to the Department, College, University, and broader communities. Given our emphasis on the development of guiding students to be “culturally aware, astute, civic-minded individuals,” our department faculty model this ideal by taking service obligations very seriously. The department values service as a way to develop our department, college, university, profession, and community. In addition, the Department recognizes that service is an opportunity to cultivate leadership skills, networking opportunities, as well as research and pedagogical relationships and skills. Consequently, service activities are highly valued and are an essential component of retention, tenure, and promotion evaluations. The extent and types of service vary with rank, as described below.

B) Writing the Reflective Statement on Service

Documentation of service should be accompanied by a narrative of the impact of the service on the department, college, university, community, or profession. A narrative of service impact may include a description of the nature of the work, the number of hours spent on tasks, the roles played on committees, and the outcomes of the work. Faculty should convey how the outcomes of the service activity serve a useful purpose on campus, in the community, and/or in the profession.

C) Levels/Types of Service

  1. Routine service.  Routine service is expected of every tenure track faculty member regardless of commitments outside of the Department or University. Communication faculty members are expected to participate in routine service as part of their standard workload (15 WTUs). Faculty who have release time due to grant work or outside service commitments are still expected to routinely participate in Department activities (unless on sabbatical or other leave).
    The Department has a high service need from its faculty in part because it houses two majors (Communication and Mass Media) and two minors (Communication and Critical Intercultural Communication). The Department therefore requires additional work in typical areas of departmental service such as annual program assessment, program evaluation, and curriculum development and management. In addition to these departmental service activities, the department mission statement strongly encourages faculty to be actively engaged in service to the university, professional, and other communities. Given these unique characteristics, department faculty need to balance departmental service needs with other service commitments carefully.

    It is up to the individual to explain the purpose and importance of the service.  The following tasks are considered routine service in the Department and should not be used as evidence of major service when being considered for retention, tenure, or promotion. Routine service includes but is not limited to:
    a. Attendance at department meetings, annual retreats, and other meetings;
    b. General academic advising for majors and minors;
    c. Conducting transfer/freshmen orientations as needed;
    d. Service on department-level committees (e.g., curriculum, new program planning, policy development, etc.);
    e. Participating in regular program assessment activities;
    f. Participating in the program review process;
    g. Participating in tenure-track search process (not a search committee member);
    h. Attendance at the annual University commencement ceremony;
    i. Attendance at, and/or planning of, the annual department graduation recognition ceremony.
    j. Service on one PRC for tenure-track faculty or service on one PRC for lecturers in an academic year.
  2. Major Service. These activities are expected of tenure line faculty members but are typically above and beyond routine service.  Over time, service activity is expected at the department, college, university, disciplinary and/or community levels, but may vary depending on the year and the individual faculty member’s commitments and interests.  It is expected that tenure-line faculty will take increasing leadership within a variety of these levels (i.e., some Departmental, some College, some University, etc.) as the Candidate progresses in their career. Examples of major service include, but are not limited to:
    a. Department Service Level
    (i) Department chair;
    (ii) PRC common member
    (iii) Program or curriculum development beyond routine changes;
    (iv) Advisor to student organizations: Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society (LPE) and/or Communication Society;
    (v) Developing a major new departmental initiative (i.e., graduate program);
    (vi) Organizing a special event for department participants (i.e., Media and Communication (MAC) Days, Meet & Greets, student research forum);
    (vii) Search Committee Member;
    (viii) Lead role in program assessment activities;
    (ix) Lead role in the program review process.

    b. College/University Service Level
    (i) Academic senator;
    (ii) Chair or member of College or Academic Senate committees (e.g., FDC, CAPC, HAPC, BLP, FAC, APC, UCC, etc.);
    (iii) Faculty Mentoring Program participant;
    (iv) Regular participation in university events/open houses;
    (v) Special event chair for a campus-wide activity (e.g., organizing a conference, library exhibit, panel, Arts & Lectures talk);
    (vi) Campus or College Initiative or Task Force Leadership and/or participation.

    c. Community/Professional Service Level
    (i) Speaker, community event;
    (ii) Reviewer for journals and conferences;
    (iii) Professional presentations to university or community organizations;
    (iv) Officer or committee member in a professional society;
    (v) Journal editor;
    (vi) Editorial board member.


A) Expectations for Retention of Probationary Faculty

  1. Teaching. Faculty are expected to clearly establish their effectiveness as instructors during the probationary period.
  2. Research/Creative Activity. Major and additional research/creative activity achievements should accumulate across successive reviews. In the first year, the faculty member is expected to establish a scholarly research program.  In the second year, the faculty member is expected to present work at a conference or similar venue.  By the beginning  of the third year, there should be at least one major research/creative activity or publication in the pipleline.  Major and additional scholarly achievements should then accumulate across successive reviews at a rate that will enable the Candidate to meet the scholarship standard at the time of tenure and promotion (see section IV.B.2).
  3. Service. Service activities should reflect increasing levels of engagement starting with Department service in the first two years and additional service at the College, University, and/or community level in the later probationary years.  In the first year, service will be primarily routine Department service. In the 2nd/3rd year, in addition to routine Department service, the faculty member may include participation in some College or University committees.  It may also include participation in community-level events or programs.  In the 4th- 6th year,  service should include some major Department service in addition to routine service, as well as some College- or University-level work.  Service may also include participation in local or professional community.

B) Expectations for Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor

  1. Teaching. The faculty member should have generated evidence of evolving pedagogy and consistently effective teaching as demonstrated by effective course materials, student evaluations of teaching that do not fall consistently below the mean scores for college and comparison groups, and other relevant items.
  2. Research/Creative Activity. In addition to evidence of continuous engagement in research/creative activity, faculty members should be able to demonstrate the sustainable nature and independence of their research programs by providing evidence of at least six (6) contributions, three of which must be major research/creative activity achievements.
  3. Service. The record of service must include some major Department service in addition to routine service, as well as some College- or University-level work.  Service may also include participation in local or professional community.

C) Expectations for Promotion to Full Professor

  1. Teaching. The faculty member should have generated continued substantial and sustained evidence of evolving pedagogy and consistently effective teaching as evidenced by effective course materials, and student evaluations that do not fall consistently below the mean scores for college and comparison groups.
  2. Research/Creative Activity. The faculty member should demonstrate a sustained contribution to  the knowledge base of the discipline by providing evidence of at least six (6) – three of which must be major – research/creative activity achievements.  These achievements must have occurred after submission of the file for tenure/promotion; therefore, only items that were not included in or added to the WPAF for tenure/promotion will be considered.
  3. Service.  After earning tenure and promotion, service should continue at the Department level and must also include some leadership positions within the College, University, or larger community (e.g., chair of a College committee; leadership in a professional group).

D) Expectations for Periodic Evaluation of Tenured Faculty

  1. Faculty are expected to remain engaged in teaching, scholarship, and service.
  2. The Department recognizes that after promotion, a faculty career may take a variety of forms.  Therefore, the weight given to each of the three areas by a faculty member may also vary.  However in general, continued engagement in pedagogical delivery and development, effective teaching as evidenced by effective course materials and student evaluations of teaching that do not fall consistently below the mean scores for college and comparison groups, continued research/creative activity achievements (both major and otherwise), and continued service at various levels are expected.